"Faith-based" WIU development?
"If we build it, the state money will come."
Is that the rational behind the launch of a preliminary construction project in support of the Western Illinois Universtity Moline riverfront project?
An article in the Quad City Times a while back explained that construction was beginning. Not on the actual school, mind you, nothing's being done with that, but $1.5 million dollars worth of "design and contstruction" for the ambitiously named, "Rivertech Boulevard" supposedly needed to make the area prepared for building the actual campus.
What the one and a half million federal dollars will get us is a raised roadway above the flood plain to provide what was termed, "an alternative entryway" to use during the brief and rare instances when River Drive is impassable due to floods.
Hmmmm. $1.5 million so people don't have to get their tires wet during a week or so every few years.
But the roadway is part of the grand scheme to develop the Moline riverfront from downtown all the way east to the site of the former Deere Administration building on River Drive, which is to be the center of the proposed WIU campus there. It's recently been reported that they're also trying to shoehorn in yet another hotel as part of the WIU project. (everyone gets a slice.)
But there seems to be something missing, some part of this story that doesn't quite compute. And that is this: They still don't have any funding to build the WIU project and no assurance that it will come.
From what I've seen reported, Durbin, Obama, and Hare have secured the federal funding (or at least taken credit for it) which is being used to construct "Rivertech Boulevard".
But the state money, $14.5 million, which would actually build the very facility which has been touted to the community and supposedly the very reason for the entire project, is nowhere to be seen.
This is on our local state politicians. What happened?
When the state budget battle was finally over, which by all accounts was a collossally messed up and fractious process, I asked the quesetion, which I thought people might want to know, as to whether any funding for WIU had emerged. Responses here assured that the funding for WIU had been secured. (and of course, the comments gave credit to, as usual, Mike Jacobs.) But this (again as usual) appears to be a lie.
There had famously been the intemperate blow up at the Governor who controls such spending, with "Big Mike" threatening to get greasy with Blagojevich and wrestle on a bar room floor, evidently. Then needless to say, his spinners were out trying to praise the Senator for being such a "tough guy". (some colleaques even jokingly gave Jacobs a pair of boxing gloves)
While an elected official who threatens to get into fist fights with the guy who controls state funding might seem really cool and macho to some, all and all, I think most people would prefer a different style and a state university campus in the area. Thanks anyway.
I thought at the time this probably wasn't a good way to get millions for the WIU project, and oddly enough, it appears my instincts were correct. Not to say that the funding would have been forthcoming if Jacobs hadn't resorted to threats of physical violence against the governor, but one might safely assume it would have been much more likely.
From all I can gather, not a dime of state funding for the actual construction of the WIU Moline riverfront campus has been secured.
If such state funding had been achieved, we'd be hearing Jacobs trumpeting his glory from the rooftops, and he'd probably be in need of professional orthopedic care from patting himself on the back so vigorously. Bearing that in mind, isn't it fair to notice that state funding is conspicuously absent for this major project and wonder why?
Jacobs positioned himself in the lead for this project from day one, even though other pols were involved. He'd certainly take credit if the funding were gotten, and rightly so. But when it all collapses, we don't hear a peep. Should anyone be held accountible for this failure at the state level? Local pols? The governor?
And why haven't any local outlets publically questioned the wisdom of what appears to be truly a "faith based" project of massive proportions.
They're beginning to spend huge amounts of federal dollars, tax dollars asked for and gotten based on the assumption that it would all be part of a larger project to bring a college campus to the Moline riverfront.
And they're going to go right ahead and spend this money, do the work, alter the riverfront permanently, and what.... cross their fingers that something works out?
Is this our version of the famous "bridge to nowhere"?
I'd guess that those in charge are simply clicking their heels together three times and repeating, "The state will pay, the state will pay, the state will pay...." in hopes that state funding will come through, despite Sen. Jacobs.
Maybe they know something we don't? Maybe they know the funding will come through? Are they crossing their fingers and resigning themselves to waiting until after the election? Who knows?
They're likely counting on the hope that after they've essentially spent millions of federal dollars building a way to get TO the WIU campus, that it might provide some pressure to actually provide funds to have a school there.
After you drive on the huge new roads with their millions of dollars of work done to safely wisk you to and from the campus without fear of getting your tires wet during the odd flood, it would be kinda nice if there was something there once you arrived.
It's almost like people building an expensive and elaborate landing area for extra-terrestrials they've been assured would come, then standing around waiting for the mothership to arrive.
The whole thing has the wiff of a typical boondoggle, with millions being spent and work provided to dozens of workers who will work long and hard to construct a project, even though the very rational for the project doesn't exist and there's no assurance it ever will.
Could someone please help me understand why there's no cause to think this is kind of, well, unusual?
Please tell me where I've got it wrong, because I sincerely hope I do. Otherwise it doesn't make much sense.
UPDATE: Thought explained already in comments, a commenter or commenter continutes to whine incessently that I haven't praised Big Mike enough for the fact that the WIU funds were at least included in the budget that has passed the senate and is now in the House awaiting their action. The House can OK the budget as is, or make amendments, or do nothing.
I'm not aware if they've taken any action as of the time this is written.
Jacobs has done his part, and now it's up to the Reps.